We love shiny portable gadgets, but most aren't really wireless. At some point most every one of them needs to plug into a power outlet. Now that an industry group has finalized a standard for wireless power, called Qi, that could be changing.
Here's the Qi dream: Instead of plugging your cellphone in every night, you'd just plunk it down onto a Qi charging pad, which can juice up small electronics with up to 5 watts. There are a few products that already do that, like Powermat and Palm's Touchstone (shown above), but those are based on using adapters or special batteries. With a standard, different manufacturers can easily build products that work with each other -- so a charging pad made by, say, LG, would work with your Nokia phone. The tech isn't limited to pads either; stuff like furniture and kitchen counters could have Qi chargers built into them, too.
It's an fantastic dream, and from the look of the members of the Wireless Power Consortium — including such cellphone heavyweights as Samsung and HTC — it has a decent shot at becoming reality. Will phone chargers be obsolete five years from now? We can hope.